Netherlands 2-3 France: Visitors steal a victory in a match that would have made Cruyff proud

Netherlands thought they had stolen a draw after coming back from 2-0 behind, only to be thwarted in the final moments of a pulsating encounter.

Netherlands 2-3 France: Visitors steal a victory in a match that would have made Cruyff proud
Matuidi celebrates his winner (photo: EPA)
Netherlands
2 3
France
Netherlands: Cillessen, Veltman, Willems, Blind, Bruma, Van Dijk, Clasie, Sneijder, Klaassen, De Jong, Promes
France: Mandanda, Jallet, Evra, Varane, Koscielny, Diarra, Matuidi, Pogba, Payet, Griezmann, Giroud

It was a ponderous evening at the Amsterdam ArenA, as both the Dutch and French players and fans had plenty to reminisce about whilst remembering the career of Johann Cruyff and those that lost their lives in the Brussels terrorist attacks four days ago.

France, as expected, did come out as victors, stealing a late winner to finish as 3-2 victors.

The French come out flying

The teams came out wearing black armbands to support both occassions, as Dutch football lost a great servant, whilst the French contingent were reminded of the chilling events that took place in Paris last year, after being mirrored in Belgium this week. Yet once the first whistle blew, the France players were clearly focused on the match in hand.

West Ham's Dimitri Payet tested Jesper Cillessen with a low drive, before Antoine Griezmann netted an early free-kick to give the visitors an advantage.

With the match due to halt on 14 minutes to remember the late great Cruyff, Netherlands may well have switched off as Olivier Giroud pounced on a Blaise Matuidi knock down to double France's lead, just seconds before the break. Quincy Promes tested Steve Mandanda soon after, but France had the better of the rest of the half, with Griezmann and Patrice Evra both forcing saves.

The Cruyff tributes were clear to see (photo: AP)
The Cruyff tributes were clear to see (photo: AP)

Netherlands claw their way back only for Matuidi to win it late on

It was two players lamented for their poor form in the Premier League this season who offered the hosts a route back into the match. Memphis Depay found Luuk De Jong with a free-kick, before the Newcastle striker finished with aplomb to get his side off the mark.

The goal opened the game up as both teams exchanged chances in the midst of a flurry of substitutions. Davy Klaassen had a couple of attempts saved, whilst Dimitri Payet hit the post and Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba tested Cillessen. Yet it was the hosts who grabbed the fourth goal, as Ibrahim Afellay slotted home another Depay set-piece. 

The hosts thought they had stolen a draw, only for Blaise Matuidi to ruin their night only seconds after the restart. Martial found the midfielder who shot past Cillessen from a tight angle, to steal a victory for France with only minutes to play.